Off and running: Lake Erie goes 3-1 in season-opening series

 FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Lake Erie Storm are off to a program-best 3-1 start to a season courtesy a doubleheader split against the Kentucky State Thorobreds on Sunday. LEC downed KSU, 10-1 in the Sunday's opener and then lost the second game by a final of 3-2.

The Storm (3-1) got a big performance from junior right-hander Russ Hogue in game one. In game two, Kentucky State (1-11) held LEC off the scoreboard until the sixth. Over the four-game series, Lake Erie outscored KSU, 29-6.

In Sunday's action Lake Erie yielded just two earned runs. The Storm defense played errorless baseball all day on Sunday, and the visiting nine was tagged with just one error over the two days in Central Kentucky, the back half of which was a chilly, rainy affair.

Game One
Hogue was given an immediate two-run lead in the opener, but he scuffled his way through a dangerous Kentucky State first, allowing one run. The LEC offense would provide plenty of offense in the balance of the contest, but it would turn out to be overkill, because the veteran righty gave no quarter the rest of the way. Hogue pitched five perfect innings – 15 up and 15 down – before exiting with a 10-1 lead after six.

Sean Mathews had two hits in the game; Aaron Lindgren and Rutger Luebke each knocked in two runs, and Lindgren scored three in a game that saw the Storm hang crooked numbers in 3-of-7 innings. Four different players reached base three times in the contest as LEC plated a double-digit run total for a second time in the young season.

Hogue allowed just his two first-inning hits and did not issue any walks over his six frames. He struck out four. Connor Fuller pitched a one-two-three seventh.

Game Two
As things turned out, Lake Erie could have used some of its superfluous runs from the opener in game two. KSU starter Cornell Brown stifled the Storm attack, not allowing a hit over innings one-through-four and against an LEC squad that had cranked out 28 hits over its first 21 innings this season.

Lake Erie stranded a one-out double (Dylan Yankle) in the fifth before finally breaking through for a solo run in the sixth. In that sixth frame, Aaron Lindgren singled in Sean Mathews but Brown killed off the rally with two runners in scoring position. The lone Storm run cut a 2-0 KSU lead in half, but the Thorobreds countered with an insurance marker in the bottom half of the sixth to go up, 3-1.

A Kentucky State error led to a Lake Erie run in the seventh, but Brown struck out the final batter of the game to preserve his 3-2 win.

Junior left-hander Heath Kelley started for LEC and went five innings. He struck out four while walking one. D.J. Stastny and Brandon Grunda pitched out of the Storm bullpen.

"We fought hard and showed some grit," said Head Coach Brian McGee. "Overall, I am pleased with the way the guys prepared for and approached this four-game series. It's the right way to start the season."


Notes:
Prior to this weekend's 3-1 performance in Frankfort, the Storm had been 1-15 all-time against Kentucky programs. … With five strikeouts in 4-1/3 innings pitched on Saturday, Brian Kilway moved past Doug Fox (2010-13) into third place on the Lake Erie all-time strikeout list. Kilway has 113 career punch-outs; only Adam Beach (211 strikeouts) and James Knight (208) have recorded more. … Aaron Lindgren had three stolen bases in Sunday's nightcap. He went 4-for-4 in steal attempts over the weekend; LEC went 6-for-6 as a team while holding KSU to a 1-of-4 mark. Lindgren and Josh Hudeck each reached base nine times over Saturday and Sunday. … Lake Erie starting pitchers combined to go 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA over the four-game series. They had 20 strikeouts against only five walks and held Kentucky State to a .213 batting average. … Lou Peterlin had a double in game one; he finished the weekend with a team-high three extra-base hits (two doubles, one triple). Peterlin, Lindgren and Zack DeCamp all notched eight total bases in the series. … Sixteen LEC players logged at least one at-bat over the season's opening series.


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